Tesla Motors rolled out a refreshed Model S EV a little less than a month ago with minimal fanfare (at least compared to the blockbuster reveal of the $35,000 Model 3). Tesla gave the Model S a nose job, upgraded some interior materials, added new LED elements to the headlights, and upgraded the onboard charger to 48 amps.
Over the past few days, however, we began hearing word that Tesla would also be introducing a new 75 kWh battery option to replace the existing 70 kWh battery. A listing for a Model S 75D showed up on the California Air Resource Board (CARB) website, and Tesla later confirmed the that a 75 kWh option would soon be arriving.
Today, we’re learning just how existing customers will be able to get a Model S 75D and it’s a rather interesting process. In actuality, Tesla has been shipping the refreshed Model S 70D with a 75 kWh battery pack (instead of the expected 70 kWh battery) for the past month. However, software is currently limiting all of those vehicles from being able to take advantage of the full 75 kWh capacity of the battery.
So how do you get that extra 5 kWh? Well, if you’re familiar with in-app purchases on smartphones, then you know the drill. If you pay Tesla $3,250 it will essentially “unlock” the full capacity of the battery via an over-the-air (OTA) software update. That $3,250 fee will get you an extra 19 miles of range and Tesla will even swap out the badging from 70D to 75D for you at your next service.
These post-delivery, paid software updates are nothing new for Tesla. Tesla began shipping Model S EVs with the hardware necessary to enable Autopilot back in September 2014 — over a year before the feature was made available to customers in beta form as a $3,000 option. If you tick off the Tesla Autopilot option box at the time of purchase, you only have to pay $2,500.